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Live Review: Isabella Lovestory Ringmasters on Amor Hardcore Tour

December 16th, Brooklyn

Isabella Lovestory (@/isabellalovestory) is a name becoming more and more apparent in the world of music, whether she’s working with experimental producers like Mura Masa, gushing over a Kpop girl group’s newest comeback on social media, or deejaying and playing shows on her Amor Hardcore Tour, an album in which each song takes listeners on a different carnival ride.

At her NYC show, she stands out from the purple and blue backdrop sporting a sparkly orange bikini, tacones, or heels (a major theme in her songs, of course!) and a high ponytail with bangs detailed with neon-green tips. Her hair reminds me so much of Yoon (a member of STAYC, a group Isabella loves) during their Stereotype era. All of us are squeezing to get the best view of her in Zone One, Elsewhere’s smaller venue, where the likes of Coucou Chloe, The Halluci Nation and Kid Bloom have performed, all artists from diverse walks of life.

NYC based producer Chicken (@/chickenmuch), who regularly works with Isabella, just opened the show and plays Antifragile–LE SSERAFIM’s reggaeton title track–right before Isabella appears after she playfully adlibs from behind the stage. Isabella co-produced the song and wrote the anthemic ‘Anti-ti-ti-ti’ hook, calling the experience “a dream come true.” One of the reasons she loves Kpop is its dedication to performance; “it’s what hyperpop wants to be” she said in an interview with PAPER.

Photographed by Luke Abby, Styled by Cece Liu, Hair and Makeup by Laurie Derpas for Interview Magazine

One of the first songs in the set is “Cherry Bomb,” a lead single from Amor Hardcore that she describes as “ecstasy on the ferris wheel” and has everyone singing along. She also plays unreleased song “Latina,” evidently about pride for her culture and a tribute to the women like her who are reshaping the scope of reggaeton. In an interview with Glamcult, Isabella says she’s not trying to play a character like the title “Lovestory” would suggest; she’s just being herself to the very extreme.

Somewhere in the middle of the set is when the intoxicating instrumental for “Tranki” starts playing and it feels like I’m being pulled out of one realm and into another. The intergalactic vibe of the song almost mirrors Isabella as an artist; her influences transcend genres, or “galaxies” as does her style and sound due to her Honduran background, moving throughout her childhood, and having music-enthusiast parents.

Photographed by Luke Abby, Styled by Cece Liu, Hair and Makeup by Laurie Derpas for Interview Magazine

The next song, and my personal favorite, is “Vuelta,” a dizzying track about chaotic feelings of love and seducing someone who seems to have gotten distracted: “No me recogiste, me voy a quejar / Eres un idiota y te voy a dejar.” When the beat drops, it sounds like a modern answer to 2008’s “Love Game” by Lady Gaga.

The iconic “Mariposa” is the closing song: “Me ve y tiene mariposa en el estómago” she chants about someone who’s enamored by her at first sight. Butterflies are commonly referenced in Isabella’s music in a similar way to how Rosalía embodied them in Motomami through the juxtaposition of their symbolic fear and strength.

Photographed by Luke Abby, Styled by Cece Liu, Hair and Makeup by Laurie Derpas for Interview Magazine

Isabella indulges in heavy fan interaction throughout the evening by throwing merch into the crowd, inviting people on stage to dance during the encore, and by passing them the mic to introduce songs. It’s proof that she’s excited to be going on this ride with us and to keep creating so that in the near future, the “story” is no longer fiction.

Listen to Amor Hardcore here.

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